“Be transformed by making your mind over.”—ROM. 12:2.
1, 2. As we develop spiritually, what do we learn to do? Illustrate.
A SMALL child receives a gift. His parents tell him, “Say thank you.” The child obeys, though somewhat mechanically. As he grows older, his appreciation for his parents’ thinking and for the kindness of others increases. Now he expresses thanks more readily, from the heart. Why? Because gratitude has become part of his own thinking.
2 Similarly, when we first came to a knowledge of the truth, we learned the importance of obedience to Jehovah’s basic requirements. But as we continue to grow spiritually, we learn more about Jehovah’s thinking—his likes, his dislikes, and his way of viewing various matters. By learning to reason similarly and by allowing such thinking to influence our actions and personal choices, we show that we are making Jehovah’s thoughts our own.
3. Why can it be challenging to make Jehovah’s thoughts our own?
3 While learning to think like Jehovah is a delight, it can also be a challenge. At times, our imperfect reasoning might get in the way. For example, we might have difficulty understanding Jehovah’s view of moral cleanness, materialism, the preaching work, the misuse of blood, or something else. What can we do? How can we continue to make progress in making God’s thoughts our own? And how should doing so affect our present and future actions?
ADOPTING GOD’S THOUGHTS AS OUR OWN
4. What is involved in following Paul’s admonition: ‘Make your mind over’?
4 Read Romans 12:2. The apostle Paul here describes what is involved in learning to think like Jehovah. The preceding article helped us to appreciate that in order to “stop being molded by this system of things,” we must refuse to feed on worldly viewpoints and attitudes. But Paul also mentioned the need for us to ‘make our mind over.’ This involves studying God’s Word with a view to grasping his thoughts, meditating on them, and bringing our thinking into alignment with God’s thinking.
5. Explain the difference between superficial reading and study.
5 Study is more than superficial reading and involves much more than merely highlighting the answers to study questions. When we study, we consider what the material tells us about Jehovah, his ways, and his thinking. We try to understand why God commands one thing and condemns another. We also give thought to what changes we need to make in our life and in our thinking. Although all these aspects might not be considered in every session of study, we profit by spending time—perhaps half of each study period—meditating appreciatively on what we read.—Ps. 119:97; 1 Tim. 4:15.
6. What happens when we meditate on Jehovah’s thoughts?
6 As we meditate regularly on God’s Word, something extraordinary happens. We ‘prove to ourselves,’ yes, convince ourselves, that Jehovah’s reasoning on matters is perfect. We begin to see things from his point of view, and we come to agree with that viewpoint. Our minds are ‘made over,’ and we develop a new pattern of thinking. Progressively, we make Jehovah’s thoughts our own.
OUR THOUGHTS AFFECT OUR ACTIONS
7, 8. (a) What is Jehovah’s view of material prosperity? (See opening pictures.) (b) If we adopt his view, to what will we always give priority?
7 Let us not conclude that thinking is just mental exercise. Thinking and actions work together. (Mark 7:21-23; Jas. 2:17) This can better be appreciated if we consider a few examples. The Gospels, for instance, give us clear indications of Jehovah’s thinking with regard to material things. God handpicked the human parents who would raise his Son—a couple who were of modest material means. (Lev. 12:8; Luke 2:24) When Jesus was born, Mary “laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the lodging place.” (Luke 2:7) Had Jehovah wanted to, he could in any number of ways have provided better accommodations for the birth of his Son. What mattered to Him, though, was the spiritual environment in which Jesus would be cared for and raised.
8 From this Bible account about Jesus’ birth, we can appreciate Jehovah’s view of material things. Some parents insist on the best for their children materially, even at the expense of their children’s spiritual health. Clearly, though, Jehovah considers spiritual matters to be of supreme importance. Have you adopted Jehovah’s view? What do your actions reveal?—Read Hebrews 13:5.
9, 10. How might we show that we share Jehovah’s view of stumbling others?
9 Another example is God’s view of stumbling others. Jesus said: “Whoever stumbles one of these little ones who have faith, it would be better for him if a millstone that is turned by a donkey were put around his neck and he were pitched into the sea.” (Mark 9:42) Those words express strong feelings! Since Jesus perfectly reflected his Father’s personality, we can be sure that Jehovah feels just as strongly about anyone whose callous actions stumble one of Jesus’ followers.—John 14:9.
10 Do we share the view of Jehovah and Jesus? Have we made it our own? What do our actions reveal? For instance, suppose we are attracted to a certain style of dress or grooming that is likely to upset some in the congregation or that may well arouse passion in the minds of others. Will our loving concern for fellow believers override our personal preferences in style?—1 Tim. 2:9, 10.
11, 12. How will cultivating God’s view of badness combined with self-control protect us from wrongdoing?
11 A third example: Jehovah hates unrighteousness. (Isa. 61:8) While he knows that we have some wrong inclinations because of inherited imperfection, he exhorts us to cultivate similar hatred for unrighteousness. (Read Psalm 97:10.) Meditating on why Jehovah detests badness will help us make his view our own, giving us added strength to resist wrongdoing.
12 Cultivating Jehovah’s view of unrighteousness will also help us identify certain practices as wrong, even though they are not specifically mentioned in God’s Word. For example, lap dancing is a form of lewd conduct that is becoming more common in the world. Some might excuse such conduct, reasoning that it is not the same as outright sexual relations. * But do such actions reflect the thinking of God, who abhors every kind of badness? Let us stay far from wrongdoing by cultivating self-control as well as an abhorrence for what Jehovah hates.—Rom. 12:9.
GIVING ADVANCE THOUGHT TO FUTURE DECISIONS
13. Why should we give advance thought to how Jehovah’s viewpoints may affect our future decisions?
13 When studying, we do well to consider what bearing Jehovah’s thoughts may have on situations we might face in the future. That way, should we be in a situation requiring an immediate decision, we will not be caught completely off guard. (Prov. 22:3) Consider some Bible examples.
14. What do we learn from Joseph’s refusal of Potiphar’s wife?
14 By immediately rejecting the attempted seductions of Potiphar’s wife, Joseph showed that he had given thought to Jehovah’s view of marital faithfulness. (Read Genesis 39:8, 9.) Furthermore, his reply to Potiphar’s wife: “How could I commit this great badness and actually sin against God?” indicates that he had made God’s view his own. What about us? Suppose a coworker began manifesting flirtatious behavior. Or what if a sexually explicit message or image was sent to your mobile phone? * It is far easier to take a stand if we have already sought out and adopted Jehovah’s view on such matters and have determined in advance what we will do.
15. How can we, like the three Hebrews, resist pressure to compromise our loyalty to Jehovah?
15 Consider now the example of the three Hebrews known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their resolute refusal to worship the image of gold erected by King Nebuchadnezzar and their pointed reply to the king showed that they had given thought to what was involved in remaining faithful to Jehovah. (Ex. 20:4, 5; Dan. 3:4-6, 12, 16-18) Suppose your employer asked you to contribute funds for an upcoming celebration connected with false religion. What would you do? Rather than wait for these situations to arise, why not give thought now to Jehovah’s thinking on such matters? Then, should any of these situations occur, you will find it easier to do and say the right thing, as the three Hebrews did.
16. How can a clear grasp of Jehovah’s thinking help us to prepare for a medical emergency?
16 Giving advance thought to the need to remain loyal can also prove helpful in the event of a medical emergency. While we are firmly resolved to avoid the transfusion of whole blood or any of its four major components, some procedures involving blood require making a personal decision based on Bible principles that indicate Jehovah’s thinking. (Acts 15:28, 29) Surely the best time to weigh such matters is not in a hospital, possibly when we are in pain and under pressure to make a quick decision. Now would be the time to do research, complete a legal medical document indicating your wishes, and speak with your doctor. *
17-19. Why is it important to learn Jehovah’s thinking on matters now? Give an example of a situation for which we need to be prepared.
17 Finally, consider Jesus’ quick response to Peter’s misguided advice: “Be kind to yourself, Lord.” Jesus had apparently given much prior thought to God’s will for him and to the Scriptures that applied to his life and death on earth. This knowledge strengthened his decision to maintain his faithful, self-sacrificing course without wavering.—Read Matthew 16:21-23.
18 Today, God’s will for his people is to develop a friendship with him and have as full a share as possible in his work. (Matt. 6:33; 28:19, 20; Jas. 4:8) As in the case of Jesus, well-meaning people might try to sway us from that course. For example, what if your employer offered you a promotion with a substantial increase in salary but the position would interfere with your spiritual activities? Or if you are in school, suppose you were offered an opportunity to move away from home to receive additional education. At that moment, would you need to do prayerful research, consult with your family and perhaps with the elders, and then make a decision? Why not learn Jehovah’s thinking on such matters now and endeavor to make his thoughts your own? Then, if you are ever presented with such an offer, you may find that it hardly amounts to a temptation. Your spiritual goals are set, your heart is resolved, and all that remains for you is to carry out a decision that you have already made.
19 You can probably think of other situations that could arise suddenly, unexpectedly. Of course, we cannot prepare for every conceivable possibility. But if we meditate on Jehovah’s thinking during personal study, we will be more likely to recall what we have studied and be able to apply it to the specific situation at hand. Let us, then, be mindful of the need to note Jehovah’s thinking on matters, make it our own, and consider how having God’s view will affect our present and future actions.
JEHOVAH’S THOUGHTS AND YOUR FUTURE
20, 21. (a) Why will we enjoy relative freedom in the new world? (b) How can we obtain a measure of that joy now?
20 We keenly anticipate the new world. Most of us are looking forward to life without end on a paradise earth. Under Kingdom rule, mankind will be set free from the sorrows that characterize this system of things. Of course, even then, people will continue to exercise free will. Each person will make choices according to his or her preferences and desires.
21 Of course, such freedom will not be absolute. In matters of right and wrong, meek ones will be guided by Jehovah’s laws and his thinking. This will be delightful, resulting in the greatest joy and abundance of peace. (Ps. 37:11) Meanwhile, we can have a measure of that joy now as we make Jehovah’s thoughts our own.
^ par. 12 Lap dancing is defined as “an activity in which a usually seminude performer sits and gyrates on the lap of a customer.” Depending on the facts of an actual situation, this could constitute sexual immorality requiring judicial action. A Christian who has taken part in such activity should seek help from the elders.—Jas. 5:14, 15.
^ par. 14 Sending sexually explicit messages, photos, or videos via mobile phone is called sexting. Depending on the particulars, it may warrant judicial action. In some cases, minors who were involved with sexting have been prosecuted as sex offenders. For more information, go to the jw.org website and read the online article “Young People Ask—What Should I Know About Sexting?” (Look under BIBLE TEACHINGS > TEENAGERS.) Or see the article “How to Talk to Your Teen About Sexting” in the Awake! issue of November 2013, pp. 4-5.